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Five Things About The Bahamas You Never Knew
Think you know about The Bahamas? Twenty nine sun soaked islands and six hundred and sixty cays all surrounded by the most beautiful azure waters imaginable? A blissful, laid back tropical delight? Well, The Bahamas are all that and so much more besides.
Life on Earth
Here’s the first surprising fact. Did you know that what some believe to be the oldest evidence of life on earth can be found on the island of Exuma? On the eastern shore of this lusciously beautiful island there exists a limestone reef known as a stromatolite.
Stromatolites are types of land that have been formed from sea life and here in the Exuma the unique conditions characterised by low wave energy, lots of sedimentation – deposits in other words – and low rates of plant life have contributed to the formation of this particular reef.
It’s a marvel of the world, one of the oldest known rock formations hidden away in a place most of us would not associate with such incredible uniqueness.
Where Life Began?
Evidence of the Real Blackbeard
Pirates of the Caribbean
How about stopping by The Bahamas in the seventeen hundreds when it was being run by pirates? Yes, the real deal.
Nassau was actually being ruled by pirates in 1700 when they had seen off all the other law abiding folk and Blackbeard, yes, he really did exist, ruled over a lawless state from Fort Nassau.
Spanish Galleons were a favorite prey of the pirates, they were usually loaded with fabulous treasures and more than five hundred galleons are today rumoured to be sunk, languishing under the Bahamian seas.
Blackbeard’s reign of terror came to a close in 1718 when a British Royal Governor was appointed who offered a pardon to all pirates who would stop their piratical ways.
However, a pardon was not offered to Blackbeard himself and he was finally killed far from The Bahamas, in fact off the coast of Virginia in the same year.
Thriving in the Caribbean
A Powerful Predator
Another scourge of the high seas. Sharks! Whilst we are all fearful of this powerful predator, most of us will also experience awe when faced with the power and grace of these extraordinary creatures. All around the world today the shark population is dwindling.
But not in The Bahamas. The unique geology that furnishes The Bahamas with warm shallow seas, the Spanish ‘Baja Mar’ from which the name ‘Bahamas’ is believed to have come, are a safe breeding ground for an infinite variety of sharks.
Scientists today are using mother sharks with tracking devices to enable them to see such fascinating natural phenomena as birthing and feeding areas – natural shark nurseries. The combination of fresh Atlantic waters and the Gulf’s warm currents along with the deep trenches and natural shallows of the Bahamas create a seafood feast for baby sharks growing up in a kind of paradise.
Diving Deep Underwater
Deep Sea Exploration
You’ve heard of space exploration, but do you know about the deep sea exploration that has been happening lately in the Bahamas? It involves an equally daring and risk taking adventurous spirit – into the caves and then the ‘blue holes’ of the Bahamas.
Inland from the fabulous reefs are swimming holes, many of which are a fresh water covers with heavy, salt water layers underneath. These ‘holes’ are now revealing some extraordinary secrets.
Divers have discovered certain bacteria who survive because of the unique chemical constituency of the ‘hole’ and they do not require any oxygen to live!
Fantastical stalactite ‘curtains’ are also been found to have centuries of information about climate conditions and past sea levels embedded within them and waiting to be revealed.
Most astonishing of all are the fossilised remains of the Lucayan tribe who inhabited the islands until the 1500’s. Who knows what the spirit of adventure will reveal next?
Myth or Reality?
Have you ever heard of The Lusca? This is the name given by Bahamians to their very own version of the Loch Ness Monster and all the other world-wide stories of fabulous and huge mythical beasts who inhabit the unexplored deep sea beds.
In fact the evidence for these creatures is becoming increasingly convincing. It seems almost certain that some kind of giant squid or octopus does exist and that the deep water channels of the Bahamas would be a very likely habitat.
The legend in the Bahamas is of a giant octopus with arms seventy five feet long that lives in the blue ‘holes’ as described above. Another exciting and little known fact about the Bahamas – one day soon scientists may discover that The Lusca is far from being ‘just a legend’